Forum home Wildlife gardening

Encouraging dame's rocket and foxgloves to bloom? + advice on wildlife friendly garden

Hi, so the Hesperis matronalis that i grew from seed last year flowered beautifully over the last month or so. Literally so many blooms and smells so nice! Now, so many of the flowers have disappeared leaving the stems behind with just the flower "centre" where the seed will develop. Today, I cut the stems back to below where the flowers grew from. So the dame's rocket grew to about 1.5 metres, of which the first metre was greenery, and the second 50cm was flowers. I cut that 50cm, if that makes sense, now that the flowers disappeared. Will it re-flower? 

Also, how do i encourage foxgloves to bloom for longer? Right now in my garden the foxgloves are much more popular with the bees and other insects compared to dame's rocket, so will grow more foxgloves next year, but the seed pods are starting to form on the foxgloves after less than a month, maybe 2 weeks, of blooming:(

I've got an area of catmint that hasn't flowered yet, so even if foxgloves can't be encouraged to bloom further, im hoping that catmint will take over after the foxgloves and provide for pollinators (it was quite popular last year as well), and then the sunflowers will take after that, and hopefully in autumn the saffron will suffice for the few pollinators still out and about.

Does the above sound like i am generally on the right track in terms of making my garden wildlife friendly? I also devoted about 45% of the garden to just a wildflower/messy area where i scattered mixed seed packets, in addition to the dedicated areas for foxgloves, salvia nemorosa, mint, lemon balm, catmint, dame's rocket, sage and thyme and lavender, etc.. Now there's grasses (seeds for birds!), poppies, and some sweet peas, small viper bugloss, and other unknown flowers providing for pollinators. i use about 45% of my garden for growing fruit&veg. also, have a blueberry tree that is pretty much for the birds, and two apple trees, which we will also eat of.

I also have a bird feeding pole for small birds, and put a bucket into the ground behind the shed as a mini "pond" as well as a basin at the other end with water. I am also growing two ivy plants next to the shed so in 10 years or so they should cover the shed and provider for insects and birds.

I dug a hedgehog home near one of the basins which is in the messy/overgrown area but since i live in a newly built area, hedgehogs are non-existent, i think.

also put up two bird boxes for small birds, and a sort of container on the ground hidden behind a rockrose plant for robins, although birds are rare in my area (newbuild) but growing, there's more this year compared to last. anything else i could do?

Thanks for all your help!


  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    It sounds great. Congratulations on all your hard work, and welcome to the forum!
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,408
    If you leave the spent flowering stems, your plants will provide you with free seed so you will have no need to buy more. Self-sown seeds are often more successful than ones we sow, partly just because of the numbers, so a percentage of failures has less effect on the resulting display. It also means there are  more seeds available for birds, though they make their own choices. I had some especially pretty aquilegia last year, but when I went to collect seed,  the goldfinches had eaten it all!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited June 2021
    I think it's all great - I would just add to think about winter as much as summer.
    • Habitats to over-winter, hide, hiberante and sleep in
    • log, leaf, rock, brick, compost piles
    • sheds, stores, bird boxes, garages, greenhouses
    • berry bearing bushes and trees 

    Pollinators (like bumble bees, in the southern England) need late autumn, winter and very early spring flowering plants. Bulbs like snowdrops and crocus can help towards this, winter flowering shrubs and trees, hellebores. There is a strong argument to not tidy up at the end of summer and leave seed heads on and grass long, and leaves under hedges to help critters hunker down.  

    Another idea is to actively create wildlife corridors between gardens, maybe encouraging neighbours to join in. Hedgehogs need miles of habitat to forage in every night, which is nigh on impossible with loads of fences without gaps. Frogs, toads, newts, etc will benefit corridors for travel too.

    It might be interesting to think of a block of your surrounding plots as one big garden space that can offer a wide range of habitats - trees, water, earth, wildflowers, mini-orchard, long grass, short grass, climbers, scrub etc, as that is how nature will see it, rather than lot of little plots.

    Do your level best to keep out and discourage cats and dogs.
Sign In or Register to comment.